Prisoners charged for attempting to escape from lawful custody


Twelve out of 50+ prisoners who broke out of their jail cells last month have been charged in their failed attempts to escape from the Tanumalala Prisons.

They are facing charges of conspiracy to commit an offence, arm with a dangerous weapon, attempted escape from lawful custody and intentional damage.

The criminal charges were confirmed by Acting Police Commissioner Auapa’au Logoitino Filipo in response to questions from Radio Polynesia.

Last month, Police confirmed that more than 50 inmates attempted to escape from prison, but only managed to leave their cells when Police Officers arrived at the Tanumalala and placed them back into their cellblocks.

Auapa’au said there is a possibility that more prisoners will be charged as their investigation is ongoing.

Last month Deputy Police Commissioner Leiataualesa Samuelu Afamasaga, told Radio Polynesia the failed attempt by inmates to escape from prison has called for the Ministry to revisit the need to reconstruct cell blocks into jail cells at the $18 million tala Tanumalala Prison.

The Tanumalala prison was officially opened in 2019.

At the moment the cell blocks house up to 50 prisoners, and several Correction Officers stationed at the cell doors can be “easily overpowered” by the Prisoners, like what the Police saw firsthand last month.

Leiataualesa said their plan, in the long run, is to reconstruct the blocks into jail cells to minimise the number of prisoners in each cell.

The concept behind the cell blocks is to allow prisoners to congregate like a community and operate as a “family” where there are “father figures” in each block.

“But for now we have reduced the number of prisoners in each cell block ranging between 42-47. “And we have reassigned low-risk inmates to Oloamanu [at Mulifanua] and Vaia’ata in [Savaii].”